A Brief Chronicle…
- Jan. 12: “Iran and global powers agreed in late November to extend by six months negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program. Mr. Kerry, however, has said an outline of an agreement could be reached as soon as March [emphasis mine].” [Washington Wire]
- Jan. 13: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) at the Conservative Policy Summit: “Certain voices call for congressional restraint urging congress not to act now last Iran’s walk away from the negotiating table undermining the fabled yet always absent moderates in Iran. But the end of these negotiations isn’t an unintended consequence of congressional action. It is very much and intended consequence, feature, not a bug, so to speak.” [C-SPAN]
- Jan. 21: “Rebuffing President Barack Obama on Iran, House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday he had invited Israel’s prime minister to address a joint meeting of Congress next month about the threats from Tehran and radical Islam.” [Associated Press]
- Jan. 21: Asked about Boehner’s invitation at a press conference, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “In Israel, one of the top intelligence […] personnel within the Israeli intelligence field –- I won’t name names, but this person was asked directly by a congressional delegation that visited there over the weekend what the effect of sanctions would be. And this person answered that it would be like throwing a grenade into the process….” [Transcript at state.gov]
- Jan. 21: “The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has broken ranks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling U.S. officials and lawmakers that a new Iran sanctions bill in the U.S. Congress would tank the Iran nuclear negotiations. […] Two senior U.S. officials [said] that the Mossad has also shared its view with the administration that if legislation that imposed a trigger leading to future sanctions on Iran was signed into law, it would cause the talks to collapse.” [Bloomberg]
- Jan. 21: The Washington Post publishes an unprecedented joint OpEd by Laurent Fabius (France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs), Philip Hammond (Britain’s Foreign Secretary), Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Germany’s Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs), and Federica Mogherini (High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy). In it, they argue: “Our responsibility is to make sure diplomacy is given the best possible chance to succeed. Maintaining pressure on Iran through our existing sanctions is essential. But introducing new hurdles at this critical stage of the negotiations, including through additional nuclear-related sanctions legislation on Iran, would jeopardize our efforts at a critical juncture. While many Iranians know how much they stand to gain by overcoming isolation and engaging with the world, there are also those in Tehran who oppose any nuclear deal. We should not give them new arguments.” [Washington Post]
- Jan. 22: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed back his meeting with Congress to March, House Speaker John Boehner announced [emphasis mine] Thursday on his verified Twitter account. Boehner’s tweet stated that the scheduling change was meant to accommodate Netanyahu’s request to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C. The new date — March 3 — is also two weeks before the Israeli election. The meeting with Congress was originally scheduled for Feb. 11.” [CNN]
- Jan. 22: The White House announces that President Obama will not meet with Netanyahu when he comes to the U.S. in March. Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, explained: “As a matter of longstanding practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country.” [New York Times]
A brief interpretation: The War Party (Boehner, Cotton, the Heritage Foundation, et al.] do not want the anti-War Party [Obama, Kerry, et al.] to deprive them of a Threat To Our Way Of Life issue [Iran] in the next election. The War Party’s desperate scramble to provide the messianic Netanyahu, their only ally in the Middle East, with ten times the coverage he would ordinarily receive is foiled by people with superior political skills.
Bottom line: If Kerry’s team does achieve a nuclear deal with Iran, it will demonstrate the War Party’s isolation vis-à-vis the U.S.’s key European allies and reduce the War Party’s influence over the next election. Without the endless handwringing of the chattering class to lead the American people in yet another chorus of the Nine-Eleven Blues, the media might actually find some room for progressive voices like Elizabeth Warren’s in the months ahead. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?